101 King Charles II Facts: Reign, Accomplishments, Personality, And More | Kidadl


101 King Charles II Facts: Reign, Accomplishments, Personality, And More

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King Charles II was the King of Scotland, Ireland, and England and held the position from 1660-1685.

The era of his reign is known as the Restoration period in England. This period saw a lot of social and political changes.

Often referred to as the 'Merry Monarch,' King Charles II had quite a fascinating personality. He had a difficult childhood and lost his father, King Charles I, quite early on. Following this, he spent years in exile before becoming the King of England. During his rule, England witnessed the Second and Third Anglo-Dutch Wars, both of which he lost.

Continue reading to learn more about King Charles II!

Facts About King Charles II

Needless to say, there are tons of interesting facts about King Charles II. Continue reading to learn more about such intriguing facts surrounding his great personality!

  • Charles II was born on 29 May 1630.
  • He was the eldest surviving son born to King Charles I and Henrietta Maria.
  • Charles II's father, King Charles I, was the crowned King of England, Ireland, and Scotland.
  • Charles II was born in the famous St. James's Palace, which is currently considered to be the most senior royal palace to be present in the United Kingdoms.
  • Following the birth of Charles II, he received the titles of Duke of Rothesay and Duke of Cornwall.
  • When he turned eight years old, he was also given the title of Prince of Wales.
  • While Charles II's mother, Henrietta, belonged to the Catholic faith, Charles II himself devoted himself to the ideologies of Protestantism.
  • Even though it might seem like being born in the family of the English monarch would bring in a great amount of comfort, this was not the case for Charles II. This is due to the English Civil War, which took place from 1642-1651.
  • In 1645, when King Charles II was only 12 years old, he stood by his father's side to take part in the Battle of Edgehill.
  • At 14 years old, the young Charles II was given the position of the Commander of the English Forces belonging to West Country when he took part in the campaign of 1645.
  • King Charles I was slowly but surely losing his place in the Civil War. So, the young Prince Charles fled to France, where his mother was already in exile.
  • Subsequently, in 1646, Charles II went into captivity.
  • Two years later, in 1648, Charles II put considerable diplomatic efforts into trying to save his father. However, his efforts were futile, as, on January 1649, his father was executed.
  • Charles II was only 18 at the time, and following his father's death, declared himself to be the king. However, with the death of King Charles, the kingdom went into the hands of the English Parliament.
  • Two years after his father's death, Charles II returned to England to take back his position. This led to the Battle of Worcester. King Charles II's Royalist army, 16,000 in strength, which mainly had Scottish forces, and the Parliamentarian Oliver Cromwell's 28,000 members strong army on the other side.
  • Unfortunately, King Charles II was defeated in the Battle of Worcester, which was the final battle of the English Civil War.
  • Following his defeat, Charles II fled to Holland, where he held royal court till the year 1660.
  • However, his escape was not quite simple. It has been recorded that Charles II hid in an oak tree and later dressed up as a servant so that he could successfully flee England without being killed.
  • In 1662, King Charles II got married to the daughter of King John IV of Portugal, named Catherine. Interestingly, Catherine was a Roman Catholic.
  • One of the most intriguing things about Charles II's life was the number of illegitimate children he had. He never had any children with his wife, who faced three miscarriages.
  • Charles II's first child was born in 1649 after he was in a relationship with a woman named Lucy Walter. Their son was named James Crofts, a known face in the royal circles, who went on to become the Duke of Buccleuch and the Duke of Monmouth.
  • Overall, King Charles II had over 13 illegitimate children during his lifetime. Many of these children were born after his marriage.
  • Despite having numerous affairs outside his marriage, Charles II always maintained that his wife should be treated with respect. Hence, despite his advisors telling him to divorce Catherine and find a Protestant wife who could bear his children, he never did so.
  • One of the most notable mistresses of King Charles was Barbara Palmer, with whom the king had five children. All five of these children were subsequently ennobled due to their lineage.
  • Despite protests from both his wife and chief advisor, King Charles II designated Palmer as his wife's Lady of the Bedchamber.
  • King Charles II had quite a sudden death due to a stroke and passed away at the mere age of 54, on February 6, 1685.
  • On his deathbed, Charles accepted that he was actually Catholic due to a secret treaty he had signed with Louis XIV of France.
  • He did so because he believed the people would only accept a Catholic king.
  • He was buried in Westminster Abbey on February 14, 1685.
  • Following his death, James II, Charles's brother, sat on the throne.


King Charles II's Accomplishments

Several accomplishments set apart King Charles II's life from many others who sat on the throne. Continue reading to know more!

  • Perhaps, King Charles II's biggest accomplishment was when he finally regained the English crown.
  • After the death of Oliver Cromwell, it was his son Richard Cromwell that occupied the throne. However, he was widely unpopular, and this paved the way for Charles II's return to England.
  • Interestingly, George Monck, one of was principal army figures of the Parliamentarians, helped Charles II re-establish his monarchy.
  • With Monck's aid, the king published the 'Declaration of Breda,' one of his major accomplishments, as this Declaration helped secure his place as the rightful heir to the throne.
  • In 1660, the Convention Parliament was created in England, which mainly had royalist members. Hence, following the 'Declaration of Breda,' this Parliament decided that King Charles II was the rightful king and, therefore, he should be reinstated to the throne.
  • Finally, on April 23, 1661, King Charles II was coronated and proclaimed king. With this began the Restoration period in England.
  • In 1661, he passed the Militia Act, which gave him the benefit of having the authority to maintain a standing army.
  • One of the major accomplishments of Charles II was his establishment of the Royal Observatory.
  • Due to his keen interest in science, during his reign, research was widely furthered in his kingdom.
  • Charles II was also responsible for granting the royal charters to The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge.
  • There was also a rise in colonization and trade in America, India, and the East Indies during King Charles II's rule.
  • During the Anglo-Dutch Wars, Charles II was successful in capturing New Netherland, which became New York and New Jersey, later.
  • From 1660-1680, King Charles II was able to establish several restoration colonies in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the Carolinas.
  • These restoration colonies helped England gain many valuable items that were not produced within its borders.
  • Charles II was also responsible for passing the Navigation Acts of 1660. With the help of this Act, England had a certain monopoly over imports from the different colonies.
  • Subsequently, in 1663, he also passed the Staple Act, which dictated that any goods that were collected from foreign ports would have to be paid for in duties in England before being sent off to the respective colonies. This further increased the income of the kingdom.
  • In the very next year, the Plantation Duties Act was also passed by Charles II. This Act imposed taxes on several articles that were exported from one colony to another.
  • King Charles II's dedication to enhancing the trade conditions of his country were further highlighted when he established the Lord of Trade and Plantation, an administrative body that would work to make the relations between the Crown and the colonial governments much stronger.
  • King Charles II also decided to bring about religious tolerance and liberty during his rule. This led to him signing the Royal Declaration of Indulgence, which barred the prosecution of Catholics. Unfortunately, the Parliament did not allow this Declaration to pass.
  • With his signing of the Treaty of Dover in 1670, King Charles II not only secured a yearly pension for himself but also gained the support of France, who promised 6,000 troops to Charles in case of an uprising against him.
Historical facts about King Charles II reign and history.

King Charles II's Reign

King Charles II's reign is marked as the Restoration period in England and had several unique characters, which set the years of his rule apart and made them quite distinct.

  • With King Charles II's return from exile, the Restoration period shaped his reign in England.
  • In contrast to Oliver Cromwell, when King Charles II regained the throne, social changes became the norm.
  • Theaters, which were previously closed down, were re-opened.
  • There was also a new genre of comedy, known as 'Restoration comedy,' which became particularly popular.
  • The literature belonging to the Restoration period was also quite distinct. Literary pieces from this era mainly focused on Charles II regaining the throne.
  • The genre of literary works was also quite extreme, as they spanned from moral wisdom to comedy.
  • The Restoration spectacular was another prime feature of King Charles II's reign. This featured elaborate stage plays with performers in grand costumes.
  • Performances during this time also had tons of music, action, dance, and moveable scenery.
  • However, it was not all fun and games during King Charles II's reign. Shortly after he became the king, the Great Plague broke out in England.
  • This severe plague killed nearly 68,596 people in England.
  • While King Charles II did establish some protocols to help stop the spread of the plague, the aftermath was still quite disastrous.
  • The king and his family had to flee to save themselves.
  • Right after the Great Plague, the Great Fire of London further affected Charles II's kingdom.
  • Following the great fire, King Charles II himself encouraged those who suffered great losses in the fire to migrate and settle elsewhere. He did so to avoid any rebellion in London.
  • During his reign, the Second and Third Anglo-Dutch Wars also took place.
  • In June of 1667, the Raid on Medway conducted by the Dutch on an English fleet aided the Dutch in winning the Second Anglo-Dutch War.
  • Even to this day, this defeat is considered to be one of the most humiliating losses.
  • After the loss during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, the public opinion was strongly against the participation of England in another one. However, due to the Treaty of Dover, King Charles II had to assist France to defeat the Dutch.
  • Unfortunately, the English lost this war as well. With this loss, the Parliament made Charles II establish peace with the Dutch.
  • Charles II himself believed in religious tolerance. However, to appease his supporters, during his reign, the Clarendon Code was formulated.
  • The Clarendon Code had several laws against those who did not identify as Protestants.
  • Charles II also agreed to establish the Test Act.
  • The Test Act forced government officials to denounce Roman Catholicism.
  • Such drastic steps in terms of religion led to various members of Charles II's court resigning due to identifying as Catholics themselves.
  • Religion continued to be one of the main issues during the reign of Charles II. Since he had no heir of his own, it was speculated that his brother James would succeed him.
  • This led to a wide range of conflicts in the kingdom, as it was well-known that James was Catholic.
  • The Popish Plot was birthed out of this mass hysteria of Charles II being succeeded by his Catholic brother James. While there was no proof, people of both Scotland and England believed that there was a conspiracy at play to end Charles II's life to make James the king.
  • During his final years as king, Charles II dissolved the Parliament and ruled on his own till his death in 1685.

King Charles II's Personality

King Charles II had quite a colorful personality worth learning about. So, we have compiled some truly interesting facts about King Charles II for you to enjoy!

  • Essentially, King Charles II had quite a vibrant personality.
  • He enjoyed the frivolous things in life, leading to him being called the 'Merry Monarch.'
  • However, since the beginning of his life, he has been more of a survivor due to the circumstances he had to face from early on.
  • It has been theorized that due to difficulties he had to face in his childhood, Charles II grew up to be quite self-indulgent and cynical.
  • Nevertheless, he was skilled enough to be comfortable even during the worst times.
  • At the same time, given the fact that he supported his father quite early on in battle, needless to say, Charles II was quite brave.
  • He was also diplomatic, as he tried to save his father from being executed through a variety of diplomatic methods and ways. Unfortunately, he failed, and his father was indeed executed.
  • Unlike his father and brother, Charles II was also capable of achieving power through secret deals and even payment. This proves that he did not lean towards maintaining transparency.
  • There are debates surrounding the kind of political intelligence Charles II had. One group of historians believe he was a political mastermind and adept at manipulating.
  • Others think that he relied on luck and not his ability to tide him through.
  • While his political mastery is debatable, his reign proves he was not adept at formulating successful domestic or foreign policies.
  • Even though he was infamous for keeping mistresses even while being married, he always defended his wife's honor, once again proving the duality of his character.
  • He was also quite loyal to his family, as he never believed in the conspiracy theories suggesting his brother wanted to kill him to become the king and fought to establish his innocence.
  • On the contrary, he was not always loyal to his political associates. This can be deduced from the fact that in 1667, he was willing to throw Earl of Clarendon, one of his most loyal political aides, under the bus.
  • Charles II enjoyed reading. He liked witty satire, even when the satire was based on him.
  • He also had a knack for scientific learning and established institutes to further the knowledge of science.
  • His fashion sense further highlighted his need for flamboyance. He also made wig-wearing a sought-after fashion choice.
  • King Charles II was also fairly tolerant of religion and wished to normalize religious liberty.
  • He was also a sportsperson who liked horse riding and sailing.
  • Charles II was quite popular among the common people. This could be proof that he was quite a delightful and accessible character.
  • His compassion and kindness were highlighted by him protecting his wife from anti-Catholic critics.
  • One of King Charles II's Chief Ministers assessed Charles II to be quite good at memorizing information.
  • He could also let money go quite easily and did not necessarily have a fondness for it.

<p>With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".</p>

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